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Research Graduate School of Philosophy PhD ceremonies

Each book its own Babel

Conceptual unity and disunity in early modern natural philosophy
PhD ceremony:dr. H.D. (Hugo) Hogenbirk
When:December 21, 2023
Supervisor:A. (Andrea) Sangiacomo, Dr
Co-supervisor:dr. R.A. Tanasescu
Where:Academy building RUG
Each book its own Babel

Natural philosophy changed quickly during the early modern period (1600-1800). Aristotelian philosophy was combated by Cartesian mechanicism, which was soon itself ousted by the Newtonian school. The development of new ideas within a scientific discipline is partially an issue of doing empirical research, in order to exclude positions and progress the field. However, it is also an issue of developing new concepts and a fitting language, in order to be able to express all these new positions being investigated. This second development however also implies that the differences between thinkers might grow too large - the languages in which they express their philosophy can become too different for them to have a meaningful discussion. In this dissertation I investigate, using algorithms that extract the meaning of words from texts, a few hundred texts from these three different school. I do this in order to see how they differ from each other conceptually, how the meaning of words can travel through lines of influence from author to author and how guarding the boundaries of a school and guarding the language they use, relate.